1 year after the Tubb’s Fire, from good to great

We are one year out from the Tubb's Fire. It has been a challenging year but a year of great growth. Growth for myself and growth in my relationships between the people I care about most. I am appreciative that we survived and appreciative of the clarity one receives when they lose every physical possession in their lives. With no physical items holding you back, it is easy to see the future.

So today I will write about where my future is taking me. This is less a reflection on the past year, but on the next few to come. So without further ado, let's talk about going from Good to Great.

From Good to Great, the last year

I borrowed the title of this post from a respected blogger and friend, Fritz over at The Retirement Manifesto. He has an entire series of posts on how he has gone from good to great. Let’s be honest, most of us sitting here typing words into a computer have it pretty good. We have the financial well being to not be hustling all day to make ends meet. We have the education and know how to start a website and produce legible content. In other words, we have it pretty good.

Still in life, even for those who have it good, we must find ways to improve it. To go from good to great. It is part of the human psyche and what has driven us through centuries to build cities and inventions, to modify our surroundings to fit our otherwise weak bodies. We are always striving for great, myself included.

Life has been pretty good for me. I came from an educated immigrant family, worked hard, received a solid education, and became a physician. I have a loving and strong-willed wife and a healthy and strong-willed son. My parents are still alive and healthy as are my siblings/in-laws. Life is good.

When we lost everything in the Tubb’s Fire last October we had a hiccup in that progress, but still were good. We had our lives and health despite losing our possessions. We were well insured due to a solid insurance agent and were able to piece back our lives. There were others who were less fortunate. People who lost lives, who were not insured, who have been so devastated that they could not go forward or moved out of town due to the shear stress of the entire situation. We have all suffered small traumas and stressors since that day, but we persevere. Personally, for me, there have been stressors and maybe this is left for another post.

California dreaming…

Today, let’s focus on going from Good to Great. Life is strange and beautiful. It provides us all with opportunities and challenges. 2.5 years ago I moved my family cross-country to live the California dream. We had loved New Orleans, but California promised many things including proximity to family, fantastic weather and nature, and a good job. Twelve months ago I thought I would be here for the rest of my career.

Then the fire happened and we had time to reflect and reset. We enjoy Santa Rosa, the people, nature, and the wine…man do we love the wine. But the California dream has not been all it is cracked up to be.

First, there are fires. Since last year numerous fires have burned and this means poor air quality while also being on edge. I don’t imagine this will be improving as the years go by.

Next, while our family was close by distance (approximately 50 miles) that equated to 2 + hours of driving to see them. This is not close.

Then there is the cost of living in California. Between property costs, property taxes, and income tax we ended up tying a lot of money into just living in California.

Finally, I miss academics. I miss the interactions with younger persons who are training and the diversity of thought. I miss working at a large institution with access to all of the tools Cardiology has to provide. Despite knowing that being in private practice has made me a better physician, it is not the right fit for me. 

Southern living is right for me

For these reasons, my wife and I have decided to make some changes. To go from Good to Great. How you might ask?

We are moving back to my hometown in Tennessee!

I have accepted a job at a large academic center and will be teaching and doing research once again. While we are sad to leave our friends and family on the West Coast, we are excited about the new experience.

So how is this Great?

There are a few reasons this move makes sense.

  1. Family- By moving back to Tennessee I will be working with my brother, live 10 minutes from him and 2 other cousins, live 20 minutes from my parents, aunts, uncles, and grandmother. Plus, my son will have 5 cousins near his age to grow up with.
  2. Academics- I get to teach, do research, and take care of patients. Even better I will be able to take care of Veterans and also focus on a sub-specialty that I am passionate about (cardio-oncology).
  3. No state income tax. Yup, there is no state income tax in Tennessee and they are getting rid of dividend income tax too. This will equate to a large chunk of savings for us.
  4. Property is cheaper. I can buy a nice, new 2500 square foot home in my town for between $600,000 to $700,000. If I am willing to commute to work and live 15 minutes away, that price drops pretty quickly. Compare this to my $1,200,000 twenty year home in Santa Rosa.
  5. Property taxes are cheaper. Significantly cheaper.
  6. We will be closer to some of my favorite bloggers- I am looking at you Fritz and the Groovies!
  7. We will be back to my beloved New Orleans. I am hoping we will visit at least once a year.

Steps to making it happen

Once I obtained the job, which was the first step to make this move happen, we decided not to build our home in Santa Rosa. It has been a stressful process and that was even before breaking ground. I received my job offer on Friday. We were set to break ground the following Friday. I pulled out of the contract on Thursday.  Stressful and down to the wire, but the correct choice. Now the lot is in escrow and should be closed by the time you are reading this. At the 1 year anniversary, we will be landless and putting the Tubb's Fire behind us. We will use this opportunity to move from Good to Great!

I am excited and I guess the point of all of this is to take the unexpected in life and let it lead you down a new, potentially better path. Never stop adapting and changing.

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